The Montreal Canadiens haven’t said what exactly is ailing goaltender Carey Price, but whatever the lower-body injury is that Price is dealing with could have him on the shelf for another month.
In a press conference Thursday, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said Price’s recovery has been much slower than originally anticipated before adding Montreal expects his return to be no sooner than three weeks to one month down the line.
“Everybody’s body is different — heal quicker or slower,” Bergevin said. “His position is very demanding for his injury, so he has gone slower. There hasn’t been any setbacks. I don’t have exactly a date, but I don’t think it’ll be before another three weeks. Maybe even a month. We don’t have a timeframe.”
Price, 28, has been on the shelf since Nov. 27 when he left the second period of a contest against the New York Rangers after appearing to tweak his knee. It was only Price’s third game back from injury after a lower-body injury earlier in the season forced him to miss nine games spanning from Oct. 30 to Nov. 19.
Before Price hit the shelf, the Canadiens were the toast of the Eastern Conference and Price was turning in another MVP-worthy performance. Through 12 games, Price had a 10-2-0 record, two shutouts, 2.06 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. His numbers were similar to the 1.96 GAA and .933 SP he posted the year prior that earned him the Ted Lindsay Award and Hart, Vezina and William M. Jennings Trophies.
Price’s replacement for much of his absence has been Mike Condon, with Ben Scrivens and the since-traded Dustin Tokarski also taking turns in goal. The goaltending has been shaky at best without Price, though. Before Price went down in November, the Canadiens were seventh in 5-on-5 SP at .936. Since Nov. 28, however, Montreal ranks last in the league with a .907 SP at 5-on-5. Only the San Jose Sharks have fared as poorly since Nov. 28.
“To replace Carey Price is impossible,” Bergevin said when asked about potentially finding someone to help between the pipes. “Ben and Mike have done great jobs, but they’re not Carey Price and that’s reality. That’s a fact. No. 1 goalies out there, they’re not available. Period. The end.”
Montreal had a seven-point lead atop the Atlantic Division when Price’s injury occurred. Following Wednesday’s games, however, the Canadiens are one point out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and seven points back of division leader Florida.